The Church I am a member of, the Church of England, continues to disappoint, Dr Helen de Cruz writes.

First published in September 2019.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will be heading a citizen assembly on Brexit.

In his reply to the invitation, he states that “the forum should not be a Trojan horse intended to delay or prevent Brexit in any particular form.”

Archbishop Justin Welby’s response to invitation to chair Citizens' Forum on Brexit. / The Archbishop of Canterbury

Let’s break this down.

Brexit in any form includes no-deal Brexit. This will devastate people who are already poor and struggling, including people with complex medical needs who will not get the medicine, radiotherapy, etc. they need.

Already now, in Oxford, a cancer ward has closed because EU nurses are leaving in droves. Let’s be clear about this: it means people will die of cancer because of a lack of space for care they need, and are already dying of cancer because of Brexit.

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A no-deal Brexit will throw the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU, in disarray. It will lead to food shortages. I also expect hate crimes against minorities to soar. There may be violence on the streets. Already now, hate crime has risen.

How can a Christian church be not against that? How can it not be against food shortages, devastation of the poor, hate crimes against minorities, and people with medical needs dying? If the Church of England is not against no-deal Brexit, then they do not deserve to exist.

Welby also says “Jesus Christ is the source of reconciliation and healing for individuals and society.”

Let’s talk reconciliation. Reconciliation is what happens after repentance and amends.

Reconciliation and healing does not mean going with the establishment and what it wants, or to do as Johnson and other arch-Brexiters want, at the expense of the most vulnerable in society. Before reconciliation and healing can begin, we first need repentance.

From the Church of England’s own book of prayer, a call for repentance of what we did wrong...

“through ignorance, through weakness,
through our own deliberate fault.
We have wounded your love,
and marred your image in us.
We are sorry and ashamed,
and repent of all our sins.”

We need to express remorse and grief about the rights of people that have been removed through a referendum they had no say in. We need repent about how people have been deceived about how the UK was going to get the best trade deals and is now on the brink of no-deal.

And yes, I realise the repentance stuff is heavy, but it is pretty standard Christian doctrine, which (original sin) says we are all implicated in bad societal structures. Rather than cry ‘will of the people’ church leadership should be critical and speak truth to power.

The Church of England lacks the moral authority and the proper independence from the state to head a citizen assembly.🔷

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[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 4 September 2019, with the author’s consent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/U.S. Department of State. - Archbishop of Canterbury. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)